Strange things are afoot at the Circle K. -Ted Theodore Logan
Question #92560 posted on 08/20/2019 2:18 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

In the TV show Mad Men, what types of computer programs would the advertising agency at that time have been running on the big mainframe computers that were shown in season 7?

-Don (not)


Dear Richard (don't think I don't know who you're not),

You mean this one, the IBM 360-30 mainframe computer? Wikipedia seems to have a lot of info on it, too. It seems that these computers use the APL programming language, which you can read about here. The 360 operating system page also lists some of the programs possibly on these computers. I will take the programs listed from the operating system Wikipedia article:

  • Control programs:
  • System Service Programs:
    • The Linkage Editor.
    • The Librarian, supporting a core-image library, and optionally a macro library and a relocatable library.
    • The "Load System Program," a sysgen program to build a disk-resident BOS system from cards.
  • IBM-supplied processing programs which could be installed with BOS:
    • Language translators, an Assembler and an RPG compiler. Compilers for FORTRAN IV and COBOL were added later.
    • Autotest, a debugging aid.
    • Sort/Merge.
    • Utility programs for file-to-file copy between devices and formats.
    • Remote Job Entry allowing the BOS system to submit jobs to a remote System/360 and receive output.
  • Data Management, consisting of supervisor support for Physical IOCS, and macros for Logical IOCS which could be incorporated into the user's processing programs.


It seems that besides these programs, this type of computer would be able to complete relatively simple tasks listed under the programming language. Honestly, most of this stuff flew right over my head (I am not yet completely omniscient), but I hope that it gives you enough to work with.